From the time I was a young girl I’ve always had a love for written words. Song lyrics and poems, famous lines from movies, short stories or novel length epics…even those special words of encouragement someone would write at the bottom of a greeting card addressed just to me. I devoured them all and set my heart on what it would be like to teach or write words in some fashion after I grew into an adult.
Despite the love for those words, some were difficult to follow. I specifically remember time and again my futile attempts to read my grandmother’s Bible. I struggled with the tone, the verbiage and the cultural differences that made it challenging to understand the true context.
Thankfully, as I grew into an adult and took my walk with Jesus more seriously, I found other translations that made the text more clear. I ingested the words easily and marveled at all of what God had to speak into my life that went unnoticed for so many years.
It mattered to my way of learning how those words were translated.
On my trip to Kenya last August one of the first differences I noted between our cultures was that a majority of their people spoke at least two languages. They were relatively fluent in English yet many of them spoke Swahili as well as their own tribal language. It was astounding to me to watch them communicate with each other in Swahili, and then within their own tribal language and again with me in English. To be able to change gears and throw out a new language at the drop of a hat was impressive for this English-speaking girl who forgot all she learned in high school Spanish long ago.
However, as I talked about my life in my own comfortable slang with those new African friends, it was evident that as we spoke many of the same words the cultural differences and reasons behind how we lived was greatly misunderstood.
It’s sure not hard to compare that experience to those moments many years prior as I struggled to read Grandma’s Bible.
God’s word goes well beyond being able to recognize a language. I had been able to identify with a lot of the words in that old Bible but I sure had a hard time piecing together the unfamiliarity of it all to make any sense of what was going on.
Can you imagine what it would be like to learn about a God who loves us through the perspective of language and culture that is not our own? With a plethora of resources geared toward the mindset of an American it’s easy to take this for granted.
So when I was first offered an opportunity to reach out on the interwebs regarding the promotion of the upcoming African Study Bible I was a little undone. Having set foot on that soil just months before and being given an opportunity to raise awareness for this great need seemed a little unbelievable at the time. But this is how God works. Giving us glimpses into His greater plan and showing us how we can partner with Him to move mountains with our prayers of faith and to ultimately bring glory to His name.
So tell me – what is the African Study Bible?
In 2011, leaders from across the African continent met and decided: a study Bible would help bridge the gap of cultural understanding and relevance of the Scripture to everyday life in Africa. Their goal in that meeting was to create a resource that would disciple and equip others to grow strong in Jesus Christ and to give insight into God’s Word from an African perspective. Each of the over 2,200 features were planned by Africans who teach and lead God’s people.
• Application Notes inspire readers to reflect on issues and apply truth to everyday life.
• Proverbs and Stories enlighten readers through the parallels of Scripture and cultural wisdom found in wise sayings and fables.
• Learn Notes teach the foundations, values, and doctrine of the Christian faith.
• Touch Points show where the culture of the Bible meets African cultures and how Africans shaped Christian belief.
• Book Introductions explain the history of each book and connect themes to issues close to African hearts.
• Articles give practical advice on how to live out the Christian life focusing on critical concerns facing the African Church and its people.
• Topical Index and Concordance lists the biblical texts and ASB features by topic and defines difficult to understand words connecting concepts from Genesis to Revelation.
• One-year Bible Reading Plan guides readers through an overview of the whole story of the Bible.
• Maps, Graphical Timelines, and Other Features spread throughout the Bible help provide insight and understanding.
Who is publishing this Bible?
Oasis is a Christian ministry that strives to serve the church in Africa by working to publish materials used in furthering discipleship. “We work to publish books that are by Africans, giving African churches resources that are suited to their contexts, and giving African leaders tools to reach a global audience.”
Dr. Matthew Elliot is currently serving as the president of Oasis International as well as the project director for the African Study Bible.
So what is the goal?
The goal is to raise $100,000 to be able to print the first 100,000 copies through private donors as well as through the means of a Kickstarter campaign that will give incentives to anyone donating as little as $5 toward the publication.
Dr. Elliot hopes to have the first run of the ASB available in Africa by the end of 2016.
“We already know of more than 100 million people in denominations and movements in Africa whose leaders want to use the ASB for discipleship so there is a lot of anticipation throughout the continent.” –Dr. Matthew Elliot
Where can I learn more about this Kickstarter campaign and how can I become involved?
You’ll find more information regarding the Kickstarter here. I encourage you to watch the video for more information regarding this highly anticipated publication on how you can spread the word and become a donor. Please see the right-hand column after you follow the link above to select the giving options and view the incredible incentives that will follow your donation.
Where can I read more about the publication and the organization leading the efforts?
You can read more about Oasis International at this location.
You can read more about the African Study Bible at this location.
On the continent of Africa, the Church is experiencing substantial growth yet printed resources are incredibly hard to come by in order to expand on a believer’s knowledge in the One true God.
We encourage you to learn more about this project and become involved with one of the biggest Christian publication endeavors ever to take place on this continent. Help us not only spread the word about Jesus Christ, but help us get the tools necessary for the people of Africa to grow closer to Him, to understand His promises and to learn about His love for them.
“The African Study Bible is a project that has almost unprecedented ability to positively influence the body of Christ in Africa, perhaps more than other single continental-wide project in the history of Christianity.”
–Dr. Danny McCain, University of Jos, Nigeria
Header image taken from Austin Hanes Photography. Flickr images utilized from the Kickstarter Campaign page at www.kickstarter.com